Source Code: 12 Monkeys Meets Groundhog Day, SXSW Meets Gyllenhaal

SXSW Film attendees sat star-struck in the aisles, angling to get a look at Jake Gyllenhaal in the flesh -- and that was before his latest vehicle, Source Code, premiered as the opening night headliner. As in the film, which focuses on Gyllenhaal in various states of confusion as an war veteran recruited to re-live the same eight minutes in time in hopes of averting a terrorist attack, Thursday night's screening was all about Jake -- and that could very bode well for Summit as they look to open strong next month.

For example: Not every SXSW premiere sees festival-goers breaking out their cameras during every waking moment before and after the lights go dim in the hopes of capturing a snap. (Blogger reports of one SXSWer's bathroom run-in with Gyllenhaal became full-blown legend overnight; whether or not it's true, it illustrates the point.) The first question following the screening, which played well to an enthusiastic crowd: "I'm a huge fan of Jake Gyllenhaal." [Pause] "Is that the question?" teased director Duncan Jones.

Jones, returning to SXSW with his follow-up to Moon, revealed how a meeting with Gyllenhaal for a different project led to his helming Source Code. "I went and met Jake in L.A. to discuss a film that I've been trying to make forever," Jones explained. "And he said, 'That sounds really fascinating. One day we might be able to do that -- but right now, take a look at this!' And he gave me the Source Code script."

What exactly inspired the story for Source Code? Screenwriter Ben Ripley reminisced. "It was a real torturous process for me to write this. I was thinking about movies like Rashomon, Groundhog Day, and Sliding Doors... [Pause]... eventually found my way to the train and eventually found my way to the terrorism plot. I don't know, I wish I could take a pill and do it again. I think it was trying to channel a non-linear story like Rashomon."

At Q&A's end, co-star Michelle Monaghan summed it up with an appropriately Gyllenhaal-centric tale of long days alone on the Source Code set. "You know, we sat across from each other on that train for 12 hours a day and I don't know how many weeks," teased Monahan "So we got to know each other really well. He's fun and easy to be around and wonderful to work with, and as every chick knows, he's really easy on the eyes."

Other spoiler-free tidbits from Duncan Jones & Co:

- Duncan Jones, with his British accent, calls Michelle Monaghan "Mee-shell."

- Jones inserts at least one inside joke in Source Code, a nod to his cult sci-fi debut, Moon -- the song in question, Chesney Hawkes's "I'm the One and Only." "It's exactly the same piece of music (from Moon). Chesney's a buddy of mine and I remember that piece of music, so it was just one of those things. It's kind of an inside joke for British people; it's a one-hit wonder and a piece of music you play in the U.K. and everybody knows where they were when it came out."

- Gyllenhaal has his own theory: "He was desperately trying to make the seats British flags, on the train. That was a goal. And the only way he could get his British culture into the movie was to put that song on the phone. That's my theory."

- Vera Farmiga calls her character's journey an "interesting moral quandary" and a "psycho-spiritual dilemma."

Source Code is in wide release April 1.

[Photo: Getty Images]


  • NP says:

    I know I shouldn't judge since I've only seen trailers, but it just looks really formulaic to me, and I hate how the trailers play up this "He's doing it for love! He's going to break all the rules because he has to save his true love! Meeting your monogamous, hetero soulmate is a life or death, all-important matter" aspect to it. Very eye-rolly.

  • I dunno, I would totally break some rules if it meant landing Michelle Monaghan.

  • blah says:

    I think you are the only one.

  • Marc says:

    "as every chick knows, he’s really easy on the eyes"
    Smart chiks know Gyllenhaal is gay.

  • The Winchester says:

    We park our cars in the same garage.

  • NP says:

    Fair enough, but isn't it kind of shitty that the biggest draw is going to be watching a pretty lady get saved? I mean, maybe if it was someone else's movie, but I had higher hopes for Jones' next flick. You have to admit that the almost "meet cute" way that the two characters are shown interacting in the trailer is extremely cheesy. I just feel like "Really? This is the same Duncan Jones who made _Moon_?" Seems like it will be a disappointing sophomore effort, IMO.

  • The Winchester says:

    (Forgot to add the clarifying ST to my comment. We park our cars in the same garage, ST)

  • Listen, this movie lost me at time-travel. The time-travel genre trafficks in (and gets away with) more shopworn conventions, flimsy cliches, tired tropes and narrative bullshit than any relationship flick ever could. _Time travel does not and cannot exist._ I can totally buy a galaxy far, far away where starfighters do battle and crash into swamp planets and Ewoks dance and sing -- _because they don't time-travel_. I cannot, however, deal with Jake Gyllenhaal getting chance after chance to go back and save anyone or anything. I mean, why not go back and win the lottery? Or snuff out Hitler or Stalin or Pol Pot? Or advise Japan about the catastrophic earthquake and tsunami on the way March 11? No one does anything _practical_ in time-travel movies, it's all me-me-me-me-me. If I'm gonna be disappointed in Duncan Jones, for whom I have a lot of respect otherwise, it's for making a goddamned time-travel movie.
    That said, though, if I _could_ time-travel, I would totally do all those things above _and_ woo Michelle Monaghan before she got famous. Actually why stop there?? Grace Kelly, here I come!

  • Gotcha! I have a feeling a lot of cars are parked in that garage.

  • Jen Yamato says:

    I will say, without going into too much detail, that Source Code seems to acknowledge some of these beefs with time travel stories and offers its own semi-comprehensible movie science. And there's more at stake than just saving Michelle Monaghan, but point taken...

  • NP says:

    @STV: Yes, I understand what you're saying about time-travel movies, although this seems to have a bit of a spin on the time-travel thing (if I'm understanding the premise correctly) in that he gets to relive 8 minutes in time without actually altering anything or effecting change. The concept seems to be that if he finds out who perpetrated one attack, he can stop the next one. _Anyway_, my point is that time travel narratives don't have to be cliché-ridden, contrived bullshit, and if someone was going to pull off something original, it might have been Jones. Look at _Moon_. The theme of fractured identity isn't exactly groundbreaking, but the film succeeds because of how it was executed (and because Sam Rockwell is the man). In contrast, _Source Code_ looks like a really generic action-thriller.